Saturday, 28 February 2015

Jupiter Ascending

I'm quite open to the thought that somewhere out there in this universe or some other there is intelligent life and that it may an intelligence that surpasses mankind on planet Earth.

However, whatever and wherever that intelligence might be it is not the brains behind 'Jupiter Ascending'. In this mish mash of life in Russia, USA and Universes somewhere or other in times past, present and future a host of villains has selected the decidedly earthy Mila Kunis to be their Queen for cunning reasons which I couldn't care to remember the moment I left the cinema. They enlist Channing Tatum, made up like a refugee from A Midsummer's Night Dream, to transport her to her new realm. Computer generated pyrotechnics litter the film predictably at ten minute intervals.

Amongst the villains is the latest crowned Academy Award Best Actor, Eddie Redmayne, whose horrendous performance in this film appears to be modelled on an imagined love child of Noel Coward and Frank Thring. (Look them up, if the names are unknown to you.)

Redmayne's performance matches the quality of the film seamlessly.

Friday, 27 February 2015

A Most Violent Year

It is the 1980s and in New York an up and coming heating oil company is the target of violent attacks and sabotage. One of their competitors is suspected of being behind the attacks but which one?

Despite its title 'A Most Violent Year' is not that violent, well not directly anyway. However there is one very violent incident near the film's end.

The story unfolds slowly, languidly despite the many wintery scenes, a little like a flower slowly revealing itself petal by petal. The acting is excellent.

This may be too slow, perhaps even dull, for many but I think this is a terrific film.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Growing up gay

WARNING: If you prefer not to read about illegal activities, please skip this post

Last night the ABC screened 'Our Gay Wedding: The Musical'. Two gay men planned and carried out their wedding as a musical. The wedding occurred on the first day that same sex couples could legally marry in Britain. Pretty well everyone involved in the wedding from the Registrar and the grooms, through to the relatives and friends attending participated musically in the ceremony (and some did so less musically). Parts of the ceremony were cheesy but there were plenty of moving, wonderful moments such as when both grooms' mothers sang a duet expressing honestly their feelings about discovering and coming to terms with their son's sexuality.

I was taken with information displayed on a big screen during the ceremony which informed both the progress made in removing discrimination against homosexuals but also the many areas where discrimination, indeed persecution, against homosexuals still prevails. It brought back memories of my own passage through a gay adolescence to adulthood.

My experience would be familiar to many gay Australians now aged in their sixties and older.

It is as recently as 1984 that homosexuality was decriminalised in my state of New South Wales. I was thirty-five years of age at the time. Prior to then it was illegal for me to engage my sexuality. Considering that I began sexual activity at the early age of twelve that constitutes twenty-three years of illegal activity simply responding to the sex drive that nature gave me.

At any stage in those twenty-three years I could have been arrested, prosecuted and gaoled. Indeed I was arrested once. I say arrested but I'm not sure of the technical status. Perhaps detained by police for questioning might be the correct legal status but either way to me it seemed like an arrest.

I was only twelve when I was arrested. I hadn't engaged in sex, nor touched, nor even spoken to the other person when I was detained. The other person was a plainclothes policeman. It was an act of entrapment. After lingering at a public urinal he gestured for me to follow him outside where we were approached by another man who also was a plainclothes policeman. They identified themselves as police and ordered me into their car. They drove me to a police station for questioning.

No adult relative relative, indeed no independent adult at all, was present during the questioning. They instructed me to complete a statement 'helpfully' suggesting forms of words at points when I felt incapable of expressing myself. The completed statement was a factually correct account but using language that was not my habit to employ and that my parents had never heard me express before nor indeed afterwards.

You can imagine the shock my parents felt when I was brought home unannounced by two policeman who handed them a copy of 'my' statement, alien language and all, to read. I presume the matter was referred to a Magistrate or some such legal arbitrator. As I hadn't actually been observed by the policemen to engage in sexual activity I assume my offence was soliciting or perhaps it was loitering with intent. I was required to attend a Psychiatric assessment to determine the level of my mental health.

I concede that I was in the habit of engaging in what then was illegal sexual activity. However consider the actions of the police that day. Entrapment, detaining and interviewing a minor without any independent adult and/or legal representative present, and 'assistance' given in completing 'my' statement. I think the last used to be referred to as 'verballing'.

Six years later when I applied for my first full time job, with a Government authority no less, I was in fear that the obligatory police checks would reveal that I had a criminal record. To my relief that was not the case.

There are homosexuals around the world nowadays facing far worse treatment than I experienced. It was good to be reminded of that fact whilst rejoicing for the newly married couple in their more enlightened time and place.

In Australia, we have progressed but marriage equality is still not on the agenda.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

It's what parents do....

....sooner or later your parents will embarrass you.

At various stages in my life I felt embarrassed by something my parents said or did. But that was a long time ago. As I grew older and more understanding  - and most importantly, less concerned about what I imagined others think - I lost that youthful sensitivity to parental behaviour.

But a few memories came rushing back following an exchange on Andrew's blog. Somehow my comment on that blog caused Andrew to think about sex. Not just sex but 'hot sex', if you please. I wasn't thinking of sex at all when I wrote my comment. I've carefully re-read my words and don't see any trigger for sex in them. That my comment caused Andrew to turn to thoughts of sex, as the saying goes, says more about him than it does about me.

Anyway, having suggested thoughts of parental sex, 'icky' or otherwise, Andrew has stirred memories in me.

I recall, as a pre-teenager, that first thing each Sunday morning about twenty minutes was set aside for some personal activity behind almost closed bedroom doors. I was too young and naive to understand the nature of that activity although in later years I recognised that my parents were engaging in...ahem...some horizontal folk dancing.

Vertical folk dancing

Many years later when my parents were probably not much older than I am now I recall the three of us were on a long car drive. Father behind the wheel, me in the passenger seat and mother on the backseat. My mother leant forward, tapped me on the shoulder and with an odd look of dreamy smugness on her face, informed me that she and my father had 'made love' that morning.

Like Andrew's comment I have no idea what caused my mother to disclose this personal information. I suspect that by that time their participation in folk dancing had entered a long hiatus and so this return to the dance floor, so to speak, was worthy of announcement.

My father clearly was uneasy with my mother's disclosure. Later on I thought he might have puffed his chest at this confirmation of senior virility. I had no idea what to say in response, so I said nothing. I don't know why the thought of one's parents having sex should cause embarrassment. Most of us wouldn't exist without that act of sex. Anyway, it was probably the last time my parents caused me to feel embarrassed.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

Well what can I say? I attempted to read the novel a couple of years back and gave up about a third of the way through. The novel was just so silly, irritating and badly written. For those who don't know, a young handsome billionaire, Christian Grey, is drawn to a university student and he seeks a sexual domination/submissive relationship with her, bound by contract. The book was written from the student's point of view.

Could a good film be made of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'? Maybe, but this isn't it. The story is just as silly on the screen. Actually the story is boring. Grey (Jamie Dornan) is distant and unappealing. The abrupt ending - designed presumably to link seamlessly with a sequel - is unsatisfying except as a blessed relief from the nonsense preceding it.

They got the greyness right.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Kill the Messenger

'Kill the Messenger' at Belvoir Street Theatre.

A play about race and family relations. A sister tries to lead her brother, Paul, away from a life of crime and then faces battles with the hospital where he seeks medical treatment. A young playwright seeks information about Paul whilst struggling with her own boyfriend relationship.

This short play has a simple but very effective staging. There is no set, just a lit area on the performance space and the occasional image projected on the back walls. The author of the work also performs and at times steps out of character to explain elements of the play and its narrative.

The performances are natural. An interesting work.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dress circle view

The view from the rarely opened Dress Circle of the art deco cinema at the Randwick Ritz. For most sessions in this cinema only the downstairs Stalls section is available.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The large and the small of it

Vessels of the Royal Australian Navy steaming up Sydney Harbour on a grey Sydney morning.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Suddenly Last Summer

Sydney Theatre Company

'Suddenly Last Summer' by Tennessee Williams. A widowed mother recruits a young doctor to perform a lobotomy on her niece to silence her from revealing the circumstances of her son's death. What secrets does she fear?

This is the third stage production in recent months in Sydney after The Glass Menagerie and Calpurnia Descending to utilise digital video to provide screen images of the performers during the theatrical presentation.

I didn't think either of the earlier productions was improved by the digital element but this time around the big screen provides powerful enhancement of the drama. The performances are top notch.

An excellent production.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Cruise; day and night

On the way to the Opera House this afternoon.

Celebrity Solstice

Departing the Opera House two hours later.

Celebrity Solstice

Saturday, 14 February 2015

My valentine

Enjoy Valentine's Day all my anonymous, and some less anonymous, readers. Maybe you will receive a hoped for card from that special someone. I'd be content with candy.

Valentine's Day has a significance for me but it has nothing to with love or admirers. In 1968, aged 18, I was struggling a bit after two years at University. On my father's advice I took what was intended to be a year away from studies and acquired a full time job. That job commenced on Valentine's Day.

I never went back to University. The job turned into an enjoyable public service career with the one employer from which I retired much the wiser and very contented 37 years later.

A fluke, or was it fate, proved a turning point in my life 47 years ago on Valentine's Day.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Capital punishment

Two young Australians face execution in Indonesia within the next few days. They are convicted drug traffickers. The Australian Parliament and prominent Australians have pleaded for the death sentences to be commuted. Indonesia's President has not heeded any of these pleas and appears immovable on the matter.

By all accounts the two Australians have turned their lives around in the many years they have spent in prison awaiting their sentence to be carried out. Their reform has been one of the arguments pleaded in their favour. Some in Australia, especially amongst those who have lost loved ones to drug usage, support the intended executions.

I can understand that view but I am not in favour of capital punishment. I wish that the Indonesian President would agree to commute the sentences. There seems no hope of that.

I am glad that our Governments - of both persuasions - have pleaded on behalf of these and other Australians who face execution. Perhaps if our Governments would use diplomatic channels constantly to argue against all executions - and not just those where Australians are involved - we might see countries which practice capital punishment changing their policies over time. Otherwise why should any country show clemency to Australians when they execute their own nationals with impunity?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

What We Did On Our Holiday

I was looking forward to seeing 'What We Did On Our Holiday' which from the trailer I assumed to be inspired by, or an adaptation of, the television series 'Outnumbered'. In the film the family visit a grandfather in Scotland to celebrate his birthday.

The film has a similar premise to the television series. A married couple rearing three children who are struggling to reign in their boundless energy and incorrigible, havoc-inducing, curiosity.

But there are differences and these are not just the different set of performers. The family is a different family and whereas the television parents are a settled couple the parents marriage in the film is falling apart. There are also dark edges to the film especially the plot surrounding the grandfather and to a lesser extent the behaviour of the aunt.

These parents are not as weary as their television counterparts and the children are not quite as provoking with their impossible to counter child logic although are terrific young performers. On the plus side the film contains stunning scenery of the Scottish highlands.

A bit disappointing but it has its moments.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Lincoln progress

Progress at the Lincoln Place development adjacent to my apartment building.


23 December 2014

Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Gambler

I have to admit that 'The Gambler' is a more interesting film than I was expecting. A compulsive gambler continues to dig deeper and deeper holes of debt even when he has the funds to pay them off.

As interesting as the film is, Mark Wahlberg portraying a college literature professor - like his character's gambling practices - is just one stretch too far.

Plenty of profanities but watchable nonetheless.

Saturday, 7 February 2015


'Wild' like 'The Theory of Everything', is a film that hangs on an outstanding portrayal of a real individual. Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed a woman who spent 13 weeks walking the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Washington state in a bid to find herself after a period of self destructive behaviour.

The film unfolds with frequent flashback sequences which gradually reveal the extent of Cheryl's fall from grace. The trek emphasises the size of her eventual triumph.

Friday, 6 February 2015

The Theory of Everything

'The Theory of Everything' is about Steven Hawking, how he meets and falls in love with his first wife, Jane, the diagnosis of his motor neuron condition and how he and Jane deal with his deteriorating health.

The highlight of what otherwise is a somewhat dull film is the excellent acting of the cast with Eddie Redmayne outstanding as Hawking. The film is worth seeing for the performances and for its example of the power of the mind over the body.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Paper Planes

I believe that 'Paper Planes' is based loosely on true events. A young boy whose mother has recently passed away enters a paper plane competition and tries to enlist the involvement of his grieving and distracted father.

This film which is a bit elastic in its depiction of geography, distances and travel times is an appealing  entertainment aimed at young and early teenage children.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

They've got my number.....

My monthly credit card statement arrived yesterday. As always I scanned it for any irregularities and there it was. At the very end of the statement. Seven items that screamed out 'these are not mine'. Seven 'services' amounting to almost $500. Someone has used my credit card number. Not the card itself. That is in my possession. A clone card maybe. My numbers at the very least.

Within five minutes of opening the statement I was on the phone to my bank provider. The unwelcome news was that these irregular items are continuing into next month's statement currently accruing at the bank.

I've tried to think at what point my card might have been compromised but I can't readily identify one. There are some oddities about the rogue transactions one of which may involve New York. If you are thinking of visiting there - I'm looking at you, Andrew - be careful.

The card has been 'stopped'. Disputed transaction forms have been emailed to me, printed, completed, scanned and emailed back to the bank. A new card with a new number will be despatched.

It is all rather annoying.

I am curious, yellow

I've been taking a course of vitamins. They are intended for men aged 65 years and over. According to the label the vitamins help support men 'meet their nutritional needs and maintain general wellbeing'.

I don't feel any different taking the tablets. I have no idea if they have any effect on me whatsoever except in one respect. After taking a tablet my urine is a very distinctive colour. Yellow. Bright yellow. Very bright yellow.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

From time to time

Robert Allenby
Robert Allenby is an Australian professional golfer who is in the news at the moment for other than his golfing skills. Mr Allenby recently turned up one morning in Hawaii bruised and looking the worse for wear claiming he had been drugged and kidnapped from a bar and beaten by person or persons unknown. Later bystander accounts have provided different versions of events.

I'm not buying into which of the accounts is, or may be, the accurate one. That is none of my business. What intrigues me is Mr Allenby's consistent assertion that he has no recollection of events between 11.06pm and 1.27am. These are such precise times. Generally people refer to 'about' times. It seems to me that 'about 11pm or about 1.20am' is the more usual statement.

I wonder why Mr Allenby is so precise? Is that just his nature? Is this is a reflection of 21st century living with the increasing reliance on digital material such as smart phones and tablets?

Just curious.

A fresh nappy (diaper)

I don't blog about politics much. I'm not that passionate about the subject but mostly I can't be bothered. But last night a rather extraordinary thing happened. An almost certain change of Government in the state of Queensland. It is not the fact of the change that is extraordinary but the circumstances.

In 2011 the Liberal National Party won power in Queensland with Campbell Newman as its leader. The margin of victory, 78 of the 89 seats, was simply unprecedented. Generally huge majorities are thought to be bad for democracy. Governments with sizeable majorities tend to take advantage of that power and lose touch with the electorate through decisions of electoral benefit rather than electorate benefit. Generally the bigger the majority the more elections it takes for the electorate to eventually rid themselves of that Government.

With the size of that 2011 win it was assumed without exception it would take more than two elections for the ousted Labor Party - reduced to just 9 seats out of the 89 - to return to power. Well, Mr Newman and his party made themselves so unpopular it seems that their rule lasted just one term of Government. The party has almost certainly lost power to the Labor Party and Mr Newman has definitely lost his seat.

All of which supports the following theory.